Collective bargaining is done by one or more employers and a union to set up or renew a collective employment agreement. Topics discussed in the negotiating stage includes wages, working conditions, salaries, benefits and other employment rights.
By having a platform to exchange ideas, promote common interests, and manage areas of concern – bargaining can alleviate issues or misunderstandings which might impact the employment relationship.
The Employment Relations Act 2000 has rules that ensure collective bargaining is fair, easy for all parties to understand, and gives parties the flexibility to achieve their own specific goals.
The Code of Good Faith In Collective Bargaining is included in the Employment Relations Act and sets guidelines for both parties negotiating a collective agreement. While there is always an obligation for employers to act in Good Faith toward employees, the Code formalises these rules specifically for those undergoing the negotiation process. These rules are designed to give certainty to all party members, acknowledge every bargaining situation is different and parties will have their own views on how matters should be resolved and ensure the bargaining process is agreed upon by all parties before proceeding.
How to follow the duty of good faith and ensure that all party members:
Allowances for parties to discontinue the bargaining process if:
Either an employer or union member can send a notice to initiate bargaining. This is a signed letter that:
Unless these conditions are met, the notice to initiate bargaining will not be considered valid. In regards to who can initiate bargaining, there are certain requirements that need to be met:
An employer may opt out of bargaining for a MECA under any of the below conditions:.
However, this can only be done at the time bargaining is initiated.
The employer must give notice, in writing, that they are opting out to all other parties within 10 days of receiving notice of initiation.
Where an employer opts out, bargaining can then commence for a single employer collective agreement, which may be initiated by either the employer or the union. Despite the fact that an employer may opt out of bargaining, they may still be named as a party to future multi-party bargaining.
Collective bargaining is a complicated process that should be planned well in advance to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Good planning means putting careful thought into the different expectations and desired outcomes of each party. By setting up a bargaining process agreement to manage each state of the process, it will help avoid distractions and keeps the communication going forward.
An effective bargaining process agreement includes:
Negotiations are a major part of the bargaining process and can be formal or informal to reach a collective agreement.
Topics that are discussed in these negotiations include working conditions, wages, health & safety, and other aspects of the workplace. While the negotiating process will be different for everyone, some useful tips for effective negotiating include:
Once an agreement has been reached, it must be ratified and signed by all relevant parties to become a collective employment agreement.
For advice on how to initiate, negotiate or finalise a collective agreement, contact Employsure on 0800 675 700.